Long Beach’s Museum Of Latin American Art (MOLAA) is a must see for all lovers of art and Latin culture. From many of the museums that I’ve visited in California, the Museum Of Latin American Art became a new favorite of mine. The artwork in MOLAA has a great presence of appreciation and understanding, the ability to clench the viewer’s attention with emotional images and powerful messages, and it could possibly give the viewer the spur impulse to let their inner Chican@ activist out.

MOLAA  has vast amount of wonderful pieces of art, but sadly I wasn’t able to photograph all the super cool stuff inside the museum. On the other hand, this will give you fanatics a chance to go check out MOLAA for yourselves. However, I chose two artists that I found rather interesting, Guillermo Gomez-Pena, and Nahum Zenil.

Performance artist Guillermo Gomez-Pena was born and raised in Mexico City in 1955. He came to the United States in 1978 and has been exploring cross-cultural issues and North-South relations ever since. He works in a wide variety of media, including performance art, bilingual poetry, journalism, radio, television and video, and installation art. From 1983 until the mid-1990s, Gomez-Pena lived in San Diego/Tijuana, where he was a catalyst for the reinterpretation of American culture from the point of view of the contested terrain along the border between the United States and Mexico. His art focuses, on the one hand, the exotic and folkloric stereotypes of Mexico still popular in the U.S. and on the other hand, the cultural nationalism often associated with politically charged Chicano art. He currently lives in San Francisco.

He was a founding member of the Border Art Workshop/Taller de Arte Fronterizo and the editor of the experimental arts magazine The Broken Line/la Linea Quebrada. He has been a contributor to the national radio magazine Crossroads and the radio program Latino USA, and a contributing editor to High Performance magazine and The Drama Review, two of the leading magazines dealing with performance art. In 1991 he was the recipient of the prestigious John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship. (http://www.learner.org/catalog/extras/wabios/gomezpena.html)

Guillermo Gomez-Pena

Nahum B. Zenil, one of Mexico’s foremost artists, deals with a wide variety of issues in his art. The traditional Catholicism in which he was raised, the mythology of Mexico’s indigenous peoples, the importance of the work of such modern Mexican artists as Frida Kahalo and Diego Rivera are all alluded to in his work. Yet, the over-riding theme of Zenil’s art is the artist himself. Virtually all of his works on paper and (since the early 90s) on canvas, have dealt with his own image. He often includes that of his lover, Gerardo Vilchis, as well. Gerardo invariably plays the role of companion, alter-ego, guardian angel and sexual outlaw in the paintings by Zenil. (http://www.queer-arts.org/archive/show4/zenil/zenil.html)

The Museum Of Latin American Art also has cool events not only for adults, but for the whole entire family. So go ahead and give MOLAA a visit sometime, and make sure to visit their website for further information at http://www.molaa.org/index.aspx, and check out what visiting days are sponsored for free admission.


-V.Espitia

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About ocbarrios

Professor for Cal State Fullerton's Barrio Studies class for Fall 2011 semester

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